Arrivals

by jason chu

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1.
I don’t tell THE Asian-American story, I Tell OUR American storiES In hopes that one day our people will see glory Do you feel me? And if you don’t? That’s cool But if any one of these words breaks through and resonates with you All the struggles you been through Pain you thought only you knew? This whole life been worth it. Mama birthed me with a purpose, from Chinese restaurants, and nail salons, and into churches Been called worthless Been felt hurt inside So if you’re numb, just know that feeling exists for a defensive service: I ain’t mad at you! But, beyond the bitterness that’s been in us, we’re buildin up these stories and the world will bear the benefits We been a mess, but nothing’s been amiss You gotta break some eggs evry time you make an omelet ahh I break it apart to put it back together like chemo on cancer I have, no, answers Just questions that’ll open up topics of discussion You’ll have to shoot me to shut me up, I ain’t budgin And maybe YOU won’t march or stand, but You can, listen and Speak Listen, to me, speak And I’ll listen to you, Preach
2.
VERSE 1 This is grandma’s kitchen Pictures of the grandkids when we was infants An herbal medicine for evry symptom From indigestion to bad intestines No need to test it, Grandma suggests it! My family’s dressed fashionably Forget Paris, our style comes from PhD’s I mean: cell phone holsters, Polos, jeans, combovers, maybe khaki pants with the pleats, ah! Uncle used to tease, I was a fat kid Now when we at the table he be like, “rap, kid!” Uncle’s business is doin under average But Chinese families know how to manage that: After dinner, you know he and pops gonna talk And a check change hands between some grown up folk .That’s family law: when family calls It’s family’s job to pick family up, uh. CHORUS We’re here We’re here for you No matter where you go or who you become It’s all good Yeah VERSE 2 Grandma’s cookin Chinese soul food From local Asian groceries, not from Whole Foods Relatives you’ve never seen but they know you Wearin socks and sandals, but no shoes! Youngest uncle brought his white girlfriend She uses chopsticks and even speaks Mandarin Grandma’s impressed, and yes before they left, she took a photo so that she could show them off to her friends Kid table, sittin with your rich cousins Your got the Benzo, AMG 6 cousins Your mom’s face? Her look really says somethin Yale just accepted your really smart cousin (awwwww man!) There’s beef, duck, and fishes Various conditions, melamine dishes When fam come together it’s always delicious We learned that inside a grandma’s kitchen VERSE 3 No, grandma, I still don’t got a girlfriend I know you’re waitin on a baby, I don’t know, man Evry time she asks the same question then Drop a red envelope - I’m stuntin! Ah, grandma really loves to show us off But if you’re white you might think that she’s ignoring us We don’t hug and kiss to demonstrate love But braggin about us, she’ll talk your ear right off! Grandma showed me love’s not just the words we say I never spoke Chinese, still we communicate Every time we ate, she gon refill my plate My favorite dumplings and the buns with Sesame Shelves stocked, with Asian DVD dramas Vacay to Beijing, she bought fake Prada MSG products, Jasmine tea, hard candy, callin me endlessly, that’s my grandmama!
3.
VERSE 1 I met up with a friend I used to know in university, He’s gettin money, got portfolio diversity, I planned to grill him cuz his stake is shakin out so comfortably But he speaks first, HE’s jealous of the life I lead (What?) This must be irony; I’m dreaming of what money brings, he envies me for bein free I only see what he makes: salary He spends that on what I make: chasin dreams. I left feelin validated personally, realizin what pursuin music’s really worth to me He’s caught up in a net, I’m surfin on another stream Tech start up six figure cash don’t help him sleep: So he keeps, Xanax, always in reach But high walls can be breached by a small leak Locks on the door don’t make you feel more secure He said: “I miss what I had before” oh. CHORUS Used to dream about Beverly Hills Gold on the streets The stars in reach Used to dream about Beverly Hills Now I’m free Rather do me VERSE 2 I remember playin at Sean’s place with GI Joes, walked in his livin room my eyes were like where’d you get THOSE? He had the battleship that cost more than my clothes So money took a foothold on my little soul In high school, I sold DVD’s we burned College, I attended, that degree I need to earn So that degree could help me search for my goal: Gettin work, so I could kill myself to make a livin, funny how it works It never let up, I thought that cash makes it better but it’s just expensive paper for a suicide letter But I get it: we lack it, we want it, we get it with debit - regret it, return it, forget it Repetitive motion, we’re afraid to stall out Spend our lives for a check, never checkin our self It took me twenty years to work it all out; If you’re miserable poor, you won’t be happy with wealth. yea. VERSE 3 Money. Men kill men cuz they want it Money. The less you have, the more you think of it Money. The root of all evil if you love it The messes we get in just to pretend we got it But hold up, I remember brother on the street Asked me for a dollar fifty three for Mickey D’s All the wisdom in the world couldn’t feed or cover feet Suddenly, my philosophy was just an empty tweet I wrote about it easily, sittin at my desk Macbook plugged in, iPhone at rest But when words are tested, I’m selfish as any man So you tell me: was it money put these problems in my chest? .I give power to the things I love Money, clothes, bodies, status, God above And as I wrote this song, I had to pause to self-reflect How can I speak on greed when I don’t love my fellow man? ah!
4.
02:59
CHORUS All the sound and fury but you ain’t say nothin Millions of hits, but you aint change nothin Millions of subs, but you ain’t gave nothin Claim to be a leader but you ain’t lead nothin VERSE 1 Claim to be a leader but you not Everything you do, just tryna stay hot Got your little staff with your little photographs and kollaborations but really you did squat Why am I the only Asian rapper speaking out on immigration - by the way, yea, fuck Donald Trump Why we got a million covers of that new Adele single but nobody took the time for Trayvon (uh) So go on, drop that vlog Talk about how Asians love hip-hop But when it come time to talk about the police crimes who’s the YouTuber answerin the call? (dial tone) And I know my numbers don’t compare to yall But honestly I never wanted to be near to yall Cuz we are not the same, not near at all I hit Huffington Post, you like to hit the mall This is Martin King vs Martin Lawrence I’m a lion roarin, you kill time and boredom Yall kinda corny - well so am I But try to give the people more than sound and noise VERSE 2 Ken Jeong aint did shit for me Bobby Lee, he aint did shit for me I understand they gotta feed they families But they just dancing chinks on screen, please I thought we been past that, do white people like this trash? RIP John Hughes, yea I love breakfast club, sixteen candles ain’t my jam But shout out the homies who makin they money by runnin the system and building they compny That’s Eddie, that’s Randall, that’s J Lin, that’s Aziz That’s Margaret, that’s Mindy, that’s Constance, that’s Lucy Ay But if you got it, use it, move it, build it, or break it, lose it When you die will your legacy live Or will your money just rest in another man’s crib? Think VERSE 3 Stirrin the pot, I’m raisin the bar To lift up our people, I’ll aim at the stars Love hip-hop cuz it never doesn’t speak up Asian rappers, why ain’t there one that speaks up? Fox News racist, who call they bluff? Targetin Muslims, who gon step up? ’06, Jin dissed the Tsunami Song But now? It’s like we’re all scared to be tough Plenty Asian rappers gonna act like they is And I still swear Dumb won his battle with Diz But why there a dozen Asian rappers with their YouTubes poppin and not one that spoke on Ferguson, huh? I got love for you all: Gowe and J.Han dan AKA dan, N A K, Sam Ock MC Jin, G Yamaza, Taiyo Na, but ain’t none of you rapping with the soul of a Pac Or a Nas or a Kdot so the lane’s wide and my mic’s hot I’ma bang out til I wipe out or the White House Til my name in the stars or in white out Or I black out on the balcony shots rang out Either way I’ma go out with a bang! Conviction, delivery, stage presence, that’s the three elements that I bring! King! Yea!
5.
VERSE 1 I never flew out on no Concord, no flu game, no encore Sixteen in the suburbs, my life was more like real bored Loner into hip-hop, I found friends on message boards, no Flight Club near my home, I hit New York to buy Air Force Ones with the gum bottoms, I wore em home the only one in my school who got them, went to rap show new homies askin where did you cop them? I felt so lucky, dunks on feet, before the Jeremy Scotts, pigeons put wings on me Our crew, we grew to 10 deep, dressed in 10 Deep Saved checks for ten weeks, to Nike check feet Couldn’t sleep, when the Tiffanies dropped, one to rock, one pair deadstock Line that stretched, around the block, they called the cops, but still we copped Over there, Chinese kids put blood and sweat and tears in it Just so over here, a Chinese kid could sweat and bleed for it But still, I rock those III’s at least once or twice a week Because the memories I got are often tied around my, feet CHORUS I don’t want hate around me, you just don’t speak my tongue And when my heart is hungry, I Do it for the love For the love I don’t want to lose my soul, please don’t stop Pumpin in my veins when I take those shots I do it for the love For the love VERSE 2 The logos in those boxes had us thinkin out of the box Copped One 2 3 for five bills cuz that 6 rings wasn’t hot It was never about stuntin, we love the culture most Resellers get cuts for the new drops, you sell shoes but can’t buy soul, and This is not product, it’s culture, those Jordan 8 Aquas Like agua our thirst was to be proper, just cop some Just do it, that swoosh loosened tongues Opened doors, talked to new girls, made new homies NikeTalk, and the Kick shop was our other home, kicked game, we copped clothes Learned there, lived there, we planted up, we got grown My teachers always told me, I should shoot for the sky Between you and I, we believed those kicks could make us, fly VERSE 3 They see the hype, the swoosh, the knit, the boost The ads, the shootings, and they think that it’s just shoes And they wonder why these kids drop four bills on their new boots Keep the sweatshops in business while corporate recoups But we know the secret, Supreme heads in Visvim Since ‘Lo Lifes to RUN-DMC rockin Adidas Profit designed it, but that’s just the basics The culture, the love here, we’re the ones that made this.
6.
VERSE 1 I told Katrina I loved her on the phone, we were fourteen Didn’t know what those words mean, but they sounded like something someone serious would say, so I used them like a bandage To hide away the hurt I couldn’t show to friends or parents She said it back, the summer passed, she took it back, but I! learned to fiend for that feeling of falling in love Garden State was my praise song, 500 Days my drug Evry new crush, a new rush, a new first kiss, now I’m drunk Broke up, sober, over, her, rebound, addict, overdose, broken - But! YOU came through, You made it all new At first sight I knew, now my eyes only see you Since that first night that we talked until the clock almost hit two You walked me home through the streets of a city that was strange I didn’t know how I should go, you already knew the way And you checked out my baggage, but let me carry on So my heart beat in half notes as I wrote you this song CHORUS I heard a love song I heard a love song Ba-dum Ba-dum Ba-dum Ba-dum Ba-dum VERSE 2 Your arm was so warm as we rode the upper deck of the bus To the peak As the city fell asleep Her sky scraping light spread below in the dark Walkin through the dock, we shared your earbuds, now Addicts break the cycle when they find a greater bond And emotion that we’re showin is unexpectedly strong I heard: “you don’t know what you got until it’s gone”, but now I know, ever since I saw it I knew what I want: you caught me by surprise, like that all-nighter we pulled Sunrise was so bright after our night out under the moon Now I wake up to your emojis, don’t find sleep til you call me My phone died four or five times, I lose track of time when we’re talkin I’m all in, no stallin, so please don’t be rough It’s not a crush, it’s a fact: I’m fallin in love with us All in, no stallin, you showed me that love is Not a buzz that can wear off, but the care I offer up - to you VERSE 3 You left, said you couldn’t commit I tried to push it, said I’d move anywhere that you went We both knew that I could give all I have, and you could take it But it takes two to relate, you turned your back, I had to face it You can ask Rock, ask Ed, that first week? Real bad The second week? Bad too - by third week I had to take those messages and chats, the vacations we planned, the photographs that we snapped, they all just ended up in my trash. But you showed me what love is, that’s the memory that I kept How I put my arm around you as we sat there on those steps That was, love in the air as we shared about our past And the love I gave to you is not love that I’ll never get back So this love song is not for you - but it’s because we met We both hurt, we both healed - now I wish you the best I learned: love is not a check I wrote and you cashed Instead, I know that love grows, even if you give and never get it back.
7.
Little sister, I see you staring at the Kpop videos and practicing their moves Your, hips swing and heels groove but When their eyes flare yours can’t follow and I’m sorry but I couldn’t help but notice you swallow Your disappointment And I hope you know that it’s no BB Cream ointment, no mascara halos that make your face glow, no angels aren’t defined by the radius around their pupils Little sister, I saw you Laughin at jokes about Asians’ poor vertical vision Your, smile was nervous, lacking purpose, hiding curses behind derision Thinking, if you are in on the joke, you won’t be cast out by it But I’ve had to learn: it’s not worth the buy-in, if what I’m buyin is so biased that it defines the lines of my eyelids as noncompliant And I’ve seen you cryin in frustration that your eyes aren’t in syndication, Twenty-four but in our nation your figure’s figured as teenager So you curse genetic make-up and replace it with foundation But that make-up couldn’t make one tenth of what our parents gave us! INTERLUDE What they say I take it all What you say I take it all Little sister, I’ve seen the ads from New York to Hong Kong Carnival mirror images of women to become They call you plain if you don’t dress up; if you do, you’re labeled fake Either exotic geisha or awkward honor student brain And freedom from your baggage feels an awful lot like shame One thing I’ve learned: in lose-lose situations, you only win the game by never playing (fermata) So why play? (arpeggios start) It never stops: demands from others always keep comin around If you’re slim, they call you skinny; if you’re not, they count the pounds But opinions only matter if you value what they hold. And all their money and attention weighs nothing next to your soul And that’s worth more than Mastercard or surgery in Seoul I’ve seen you shine, and when you do, you get more bright than grandma’s gold You got a goal that you can hit that no one else could ever do And when you’re in your element, no irony can tarnish you So shout outs to my sister whose vision don’t need prescription Who knows her confidence isn’t based on male ambition Or the gaze of hating eyes who want to chisel hers away Because I see you, little sister - but more important? You see your own face.
8.
VERSE 1 New eyes that look at the world in new ways New eyes make contact, blue green and grey New eyes I realized I never knew When you realized [the?] feelings you trapped inside of you New eyes that see the respect you earned New eyes that test the lessons you learned New eyes attract new guys and new games and tonight those eyes will be filled with new gazes New eyes thrilled the first minute you saw, world through new lashes, no chains involved New eyes insist you’re taken serious New eyes fill with confidence and trust New life written with the passage of time New eyes that gleam with color but won’t die Who knew I’d see such beauty and love through eyes that combine perfection - and flaws CHORUS I may not be what you think As standard beauty But I love my face, my eyes And body VERSE 2 Those eyes were once made middle school jokes Those eyes are stories of our kinfolk Those eyes are dark but glow in sunlight, our people been hurt but still we gon fight Those eyes contain five thousand years of pride Those eyes saw dyin stars in old skies Those eyes are shy but those eyes are kind, those eyes are so wise, those eyes are like mine Those eyes speak of turnin the other cheek Those eyes turned down so I couldn’t see you weep They teased you because those eyes were too thin, synonymous with “cheap” or prostitute skin Those eyes are me, those eyes are family, those eyes are ID of your identity Those eyes are not weak, those eyes are not wrong, those eyes are holy, those eyes are from God VERSE 3 What’s the price of confidence? What’s the cost to be happy in our own, skin? Not my place to question, but do you see a stranger when the mirror is reflectin? You said I’d never understand, the pressure from magazine covers, Asian mothers, and men Whether tan, bleached, or blonde, we remix our colors like we cover pop songs In a bottle how we battle all the barriers, right? Some drink, some color their hair evry night Some like to stand out, some like to act white Found music, but I never been the stereo, type New eyes break old lies New skin needs new wine New vibes and new highs come through with new life, second coming like Christ You told me that therapy Taught you so much about our parents, we got a chance to re-set the path, through us, our generation bring the future to the past!
9.
VERSE 1 Tired of feelin weak, too tired to not repeat Starin at the mirror, I fear everything I see Haunted by all my dreams (*), razor sing me to sleep Either that or anything to maybe get through to me Cheated on, cheated on her (*), try to cope, pills and porn, fill my home I feel far gone, where is God? I thank God, pop don’t got, no hand guns, in the house, If he does I might not make it past Fall And if prozac and prayers don’t manage, I pretend that my heart still beats undamaged [heartbeat sound] All the lil grudges, bad habits, lil packets, packs of matches, lil cuts from lil scissors hidden in the highest cabnets, ah! They whisper lies, (so many lies), sweet little lies Tellin me my family is better off if I die, I been choked by the fight, but I know, I can write And if my words breathe for me maybe I’ll be alive (I live if I breathe) (Live if I…) (I live if I - breathe) VERSE 2 If silence is a curse Words can be prayers If my heart is a hearse These verses are rebirth. Hear me out, full of doubt, fear of crowds, full of fears I can’t share with my mom, but I can write for my peers These are psalms, these are hymns, as I bare myself, new peace draws near Hope of a future I don’t see, but I dream it Despite my darkest secrets, I (lit a light and found my freedom Needy and out) of control, but I found a way to adjust Guilt was crowdin my soul, I had to (give it all up) Afraid of lettin it go, that fear was rippin me up Had to stop relivin the past so the present don’t pass me up (uh) .I learned to listen, then learned to speak (I learned to love, by learnin to receive,) yea I learn to listen, and learn to speak (I learn to love, by learnin to receive,) yea VERSE 3 And now my story recorded shows the hope and the courage That I always had inside of me even though I ignored it Tearin up at my Mac, as I look back on my voyage: From the teenage depression, adolescent sensitive horror In the dark for so long, I forgot to look for the light I felt abandoned and left, I didn’t know what was right Now I write what I write, for your healing, for your sight For your hope, for your home, for your future (so you can fight) And I know you think you’re the only one To feel like (the only one) Who’s had to walk this journey alone But I wrote you this poem, and I fit these words to a song To let you know: (struggle’s just a part of the growth!) And I GOT through the cutting, and I’m FAcing my problems And I STILL got some issues but I’ve STArted unsubSCRIbing I’m a broken kid with dreams and a story to tell And I know you got your story as well, now inhale, let it breathe
10.
VERSE 1 Sufyan, what’s up little man? If you see your dad, I got a message for you to send I’m not the sentimental type - well, I sometimes cry - but these are words I’ve waited my whole life to write, you see He and I used to dream about the future After school on science team with (Ms. Gupta) He was dating Anna Lu, I was dating Anne Lee, we all broke up but still remember it fondly Years later, he met your mommy, they went from dating to engaging into wedding ring next thing came you, they became a family .and the whole time, I was away traveling. I always forgot to send a gift, So birthdays and holidays have all been things I missed But words and melodies and memories I can give So here’s a present to present to you on the day that you turn six! CHORUS Wherever you go If ever you fall Whenever you’re lonely This song will guide you x2 VERSE 2 Sufyan, what’s up little guy? Your dad and I have changed a lot since junior high But that’s just how the years go by, our lives take off and we forget that time, flies, mm. I was feelin ungrounded, when I forgot that little town that we grew up in But life is a garden bein groomed, I realized I’ll always have ties to my (roots). Thanksgiving brought us all home and Ryan brought you over to my parents’ living room We talked as you played your games, and I knew: Our youth never died, it lives on (in you) - so, I pray that you (never lose) The admiration for your dad that I (see in you) Not just a parent, he’s a friend and my brother and I hope you grow to be a man like I see in your father BRIDGE May your storms bring rainbows And your trials make you thankful And evry painful experience be a tutor teaching you lessons that you can’t lose In darkness, you will be a light And you’ll always find the sun after every night And your innocence and knowledge will be robes that serve as armor you can wear to evry trial and fight FINAL CHORUS Wherever you go If ever you fall Whenever you’re lonely This song will guide you x2 Home Home Home This song will guide you

credits

released September 2, 2016

Producer // Joe Kye
Engineer // Sean Stack at Fat Cat Studio (Sacramento, CA)

Music also by // Soul Catalyst (track 4), LCKSMTH (track 8), DansonnBeats (track 9).

Thanks // Laura, Christina, Li, Erin (FS!); FS 2.0 (Audrey, Leo, Roland, Nancy, Brendan, Delena); 3 6 O (Rock, Ed, Erica, Chance & Tiffany); Chase, jpoon, Dyun; Carl, Ray, Dansonn, Tim (Great Co); Daniel & KP (VAGRANTS); Sam, James & Chung (Good Fruit); GOWE; Jason, Josh & Marilyn (J三); Beau Sia, Lady B, the Our Mic/Great Mic fam, #WeOwnThe8th, Tom, Diane, pken, Sylvia, Gael Sylvia, Future50, Craig + Lia @ the Pico Union Project, GlobalGent, Dan (ISA), Chucky, tnak, Kean, jsnell, Em, Jung, Tarpiner, Andrew (Bobaguys), Vic, Al Deng, vteck, jshen, t.sok, Sam Ng.

Nai nai. Tori. Mom & dad. Love you guys.

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jason chu Los Angeles, California

Speaking hope, healing, and justice in a broken world.

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